A Discussion

Jesus, religion and American culture

Last month, authors Stephen Prothero (American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon) and Alan Wolfe (The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith) spoke at the second panel discussion in the ongoing series "America the spiritual," hosted by The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity in Boston. Mary Trammell, Editor in Chief of the Christian Science magazines, moderated the evening's presentation. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion:

Mary Trammell: Alan, in your book you say, "American faith has met American culture, and American culture has won." What did you mean by that?

Alan Wolfe: Religion is a hugely powerful force. It shapes how people think and how they act. But culture is also a very, very powerful force that shapes how people think and how they act. Sometimes the two of these conflict. . . . Culture in America is of individualism, populism—a culture that distrusts authority. It's an emotional culture more than intellectual. . . . [Today], people approach religion like they typically approach politics—"What have you done for me lately?" [Now] people are asking that of their faith.

Why didn't I know about this church?
March 22, 2004

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